Durbin: Criticism that Reid gutted gun bill is ‘baloney’

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Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said that any suggestion that Reid had gutted the bill was “baloney.”

“Harry Reid had to make a calculation. And here’s the calculation. To bring any bill to floor takes 60 votes in the Senate,” said Durbin. “If you leave the assault weapon ban in the bill, can you get 60 votes?

“What he is doing is reflecting the reality that you need 60 votes to open debate,” he added.

Filibuster reform adopted by the Senate actually means Reid could have brought the gun control bill to the Senate floor by offering Republicans opportunity to add two amendments to the bill. 

But it would have been very difficult to move to a final vote on the bill, which would require 60 votes. Reid on Tuesday said there wouldn't even be 40 votes for the assault weapon ban.

Durbin, who co-sponsored an assault weapons ban, said that Reid has told chief sponsor Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that she can offer it as an amendment.

“What he has said to Sen. Feinstein is you will get your opportunity to offer an amendment with an assault weapons ban and separately or together with a prohibition on high capacity magazines,” he said.

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Durbin said that Feinstein has been urged to offer the ban on high capacity clips as a standalone amendment and that it has a higher chance of passing than the assault weapons ban.

He predicted passage of legislation to increase penalties for third-party gun purchases connected to a crime and for increased spending on safety in schools.

A third bill, sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), aimed at increasing background checks is still in bipartisan negotiation, he noted.

This story was updated at 12:06 p.m.